14 inspiring moments from Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’

“I was deeply, delightfully in love with a guy whose forceful intellect and ambition could possibly end up swallowing mine.”

When Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, was released we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. Detailing her childhood, relationship with Barack and experience as First Lady of the United States of America, the book delves into the mind of one of the most powerful women in the world. This, of course, makes for an abundance of wisdom and inspiration that we will now be writing all over our walls in an effort to affirm our own strength.

From falling in love with “forceful intellect” to what we should ask ourselves about Donald Trump becoming president, here are 14 of her most powerful quotes from the book:

1. On ‘growing up’

“I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child – What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

2. On being characterised as an ‘angry black woman’

“Since stepping reluctantly into public life, I’ve been held up as the most powerful woman in the world and taken down as an “angry black woman”. I’ve wanted to ask my detractors which part of the phrase matters to them the most – is it ‘angry’ or ‘black’ or ‘woman’?”

3. On what her parents taught her

“They helped me see the value in our story, in my story, in the larger story of our country. Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

4. On poor education

“Now I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t ‘bad kids’, they’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

5. On controlling what you can

“Our family was not just punctual; we arrived early for everything, knowing that it made my dad less vulnerable, sparing him from having to worry about finding a parking spot that didn’t require him to walk a long way or an accessible seat in the bleachers at one of Craig’s basketball games. The lesson being that in life you control what you can.”

6. On fitting in

“Everyone seemed to fit in, except for me. I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring up who you are with where you come from and where you want to go. I also realize that I was a long way, still, from finding my voice.”

7. On the importance of female friends

“I usually marched home with four or five other girls in tow, all of us talking nonstop, ready to sprawl out on the kitchen floor to play jacks and watch All My Children while Mom handed out sandwiches. This, for me, began a habit that has sustained me for life, keeping a close and high-spirited council of girlfriends- a safe harbour of female wisdom.”

8. On losing yourself in a relationship

“All this inborn confidence was admirable, of course but honestly, try living with it. For me coexisting with Barack’s strong sense of purpose – sleeping in the same bed with it, sitting at the breakfast table with it – was something to which I had to adjust, not because he flaunted it, exactly, but because it was so alive. In this presence of his certainty, his notion that he could make some sort of difference in the world, I couldn’t help but feel a little lost by comparison. His sense of purpose seemed like an unwitting challenge to my own.”

9. On not allowing yourself to stay lost in a relationship

“I was deeply, delightfully in love with a guy whose forceful intellect and ambition could possibly end up swallowing mine.”

10. On regaining your sense of self in the relationship

“On the very first page, in careful handwriting I spelled out my reasons for starting it: One I feel very confused about where I want my life to go. What kind of person do I want to be? How do I want to contribute to the world? Two, I am getting very serious in my relationship with Barack and I feel that I need to get a better handle on myself.”

11. On choosing the wrong career path

“I hate being a lawyer. I wasn’t suited to the work. I felt empty doing it, even if I was plenty good at it. This was a distressing thing to admit, given how hard I’d worked and how in debt I was. In my blinding drive to excel, in my need to do things perfectly, I’d missed the signs and taken the wrong road.”


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We’re finally here! I’m so excited to share my memoir with all of you today! As I’ve reflected on my journey, I’ve learned so much about where I came from, about the people and moments that shaped me, about all of the struggles and the growth along the way. But mostly, I learned to embrace the fullness of my story—every bit of it. As I write in the preface, “Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” I hope this book is meaningful to you, even in the smallest of ways. I hope you find something in it that resonates with your life. Most of all, I hope that each of you can embrace the beauty of who you are, and I wish you all the best in your own process of becoming. Go to and share your own #IAmBecoming story with me.

A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

12. On breaking away from a career you hate

“There are truths we face and truths we ignore. I spent the next six months quietly trying to empower myself without making any sort of abrupt change. At work, I met with the partner in charge of my division, asking to be given more challenging assignments. I tried to focus on the projects I found most meaningful, including my efforts to recruit a new and more diverse crop of summer associates. All the while, I kept an eye on job listings in the newspaper and did my best to network with more people who weren’t lawyers. One way or another, I figured I’d work myself toward some version of feeling whole.”

In my blinding drive to excel, in my need to do things perfectly, I’d missed the signs and taken the wrong road.

13. On the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election

“I won’t try to speculate about who was responsible or what was unfair. I just wish more people had turned out to vote. And I will always wonder about what led so many women, in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president. But the result was now ours to live with.”

14. On her and Barack’s legacy

“My view was unusual, perhaps, but I think what I experienced during those years is what many did – a sense of progress, the comfort of compassion, the joy of watching the unsung and invisible find some light. A glimmer of the world as it could be. This was our bid for permeance: a rising generation that understood what was possible – and that even more was possible for them. Whatever was coming next, this was a story we could own.”

This article originally appeared on

Words: Georgia Aspinall
Photos: Supplied

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